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April 2017:  ASEAN Leadership Forum

By Fong Peng Khuan 09/5/2017
14th ASEAN Leadership Forum 
Our team at Paddy Schubert Consultants Sdn Bhd attended the 14th ASEAN Leadership Forum (ALF) held in Manila, Philippines on 28 April. This year’s edition saw timely and relevant presentations besides high-level sessions to the theme of the 14th ALF was “Advancing Partnerships, Prospering Together in a New World Economy.” Over the years the ALF has developed into a lively forum for the ASEAN community in the face of changing economic, political, digital and social trends.
At the ministerial roundtable, ASEAN economic and trade ministers discussed and responded to the challenges arising in the new geoeconomic and geopolitical order. The stress was on partnering for progress and prosperity in the new global scenario.
It was pointed out that ASEAN has the potential to become one of the top five digital economies in the world by 2025. In order to achieve this objective, ASEAN must focus on the following:-

  • Expand broadband access in rural areas
  • Limited financial inclusion for large segments of the 600 million plus ASEAN population
  • Increase the level of trust on security of electronic transactions
  • Harmonize regulatory frameworks among ASEAN member countries

At the ensuing meeting, ASEAN economic and trade ministers reviewed the highlighted issues and considered an ASEAN-wide digital strategy road-map in the era of digital economy.

Another panel of ASEAN CEOs and SME leaders shared insights on business growth and the benefits to be derived from intra-ASEAN connectivity. They looked at opportunities such as increasing mobile financial services along with security and infrastructure enhancement; the networking of supply chains and better flow of goods and services; and how cloud technologies and internet advances change traditional business methods.

Leading experts also deliberated on entrepreneurship and social enterprise drive growth and prosperity. In the bigger picture, ASEAN’s future and economic integration depends on entrepreneurship SMEs and social enterprises. The challenge is to accelerate entrepreneur development and more SMEs. It’s crucial to study the ways and means to foster ASEAN entrepreneurship. The suggestions ranged from nurturing to mentoring young entrepreneurs and start-ups amid the socio-cultural and economic milieu of the diverse ASEAN societies. To that end, NGOs, youth and women’s groups must collaborate with think tanks, business bodies and civil society to enhance cooperation and realise the goals.

During the international engagement session, several ambassadors viewed how ASEAN can and should enhance partnerships with key nations like Japan, Korea, USA, India, Australia, EU and Russia. The speakers touched on future opportunities, issues arising and how to increase strategic relationship with the aforementioned economies.

Overall, the forum sessions broadly addressed the current issues in the ASEAN region. The one-day event provided an opportunity for delegates and participants to network, share knowledge and interact positively.